Rivers crisis: Parties implement terms of peace accord

In deference to the peace accord brokered by President Bola Tinubu, a faction of the Rivers State House of Assembly consisting of 27 members, has withdrawn the court case instituted against Governor Siminialayi Fubara. The faction also dropped the impeachment notice served on him.

The group led by Martin Amaewhule had instituted a case against the governor before a high court sitting in Isiokpo,  Ikwerre Local Government Area.

When the matter came up for hearing, yesterday, counsel to the Assembly, Ferdinand Orbih, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, informed the court that he had the instruction of his clients to withdraw the matter, following the agreement reached by the parties in the suit.

But Counsel to Governor Fubara,  D.O. Okoro (SAN), informed the court that he did not have the instructions of his client to withdraw the matter.

The presiding judge, Justice Ben Whyte, after listening to the parties, directed that counsel for the governor should confer with his client with respect to the recent development as submitted by defence counsel before adjourning the case to   January 31, 2024, for report of settlement.

Amaewhule, who read the withdrawal notice said the action was sequel to the intervention of the president.

“Following the agreement reached on December 18 at the instance of President Bola Tinubu, the House has withdrawn the notice of impeachment it earlier served on the governor.

“The house would also abide by the agreements and advice of the President. This is a mark of immense respect by members,” he said.

The withdrawal came days after Governor Fubara met with President Tinubu, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, and other River’s stakeholders in Aso Villa.

The meeting saw Wike, Fubara, and some others sign an agreement to end the feud. Among the agreements was for Governor Fubara to withdraw the legal cases against Amaewhule’s faction.

The rift in the state caused by power tussle between the governor and Wike, led to a split in the House of Assembly, with 27 lawmakers crossing party lines to join the All-Progressives Congress (APC). It led to parallel sittings, an impeachment attempts on the governor, and even the demolition of the House of Assembly Complex.

The lawmakers had, on October 30, commenced impeachment proceedings against the governor, less than 24 hours after the House complex was attacked.

•Fubara prepared for peace

The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Joseph Johnson, has confirmed the authenticity of Governor Fubara’s signature on the resolution document released on Monday evening.

Johnson, who spoke on Channels TV, yesterday, said the governor would implement the agreement reached because he was committed to the peace process. He said: “There is nothing to doubt about it. We have gone beyond the issue as to who signed, and who didn’t sign.

“The Bible that we all profess said we should pursue peace at all cost. Mr Governor is a stickler for the rules. And if His Excellency, the President has intervened, he (Fubara) is not a man of perfidy. He will not say something and do  the other.

“In the next couple of hours, I will be unveiling some of the approvals His Excellency has already given as an indication that he is prepared for peace.” He also said the governor did not show weakness when he agreed to the decisions at the meeting.

•Rivers elders kick

Rivers Elders and Leaders Forum has announced the rejection of the peace agreement.

The Forum maintained that the presidential directives to the parties were one-sided, in favour of Wike, and to the detriment of Governor Fubara and the people of the state.

A communique signed by 20 eminent River’s people, including former governor Rufus Ada-George, former deputy governor, Gabriel Toby, Ibim Princewill, Anabs Sara Igbe, Senator Bennett Birabi and Annkio Briggs, said River’s people were at a loss whether President Bola Tinubu’s intervention has solved the problem, or it has escalated it.

It read in part: “A review of Mr. President’s directives for the resolution of the political impasse in Rivers State showed that the directives contravene the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which Mr. President swore to uphold at all times.

“The directives unilaterally suspended the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by virtue of an attempt to reverse a court order recognising Rt. Honourable Edison Ehie as the speaker and directing that the remainder of members of the House of Assembly constituted the quorum for legislative business.

“That the directive also contravenes the hallowed doctrine and practice of separation of powers, particularly as it affects the responsibility of the judiciary.”

The Forum asked: “Can Mr. President or the executive arm of government overrule the decisions of courts of competent jurisdiction? This portends executive rascality which undermines our constitutional democracy, rule of law and good governance.”

•We’ll stand to defend state

It argued: “In the eyes of the law and due process, as evidenced by the Rivers State High Court decision, Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule and his team have ceased to exist in the state House of Assembly, having defected to another political party, and, cannot be reinstated and remunerated through the back door.

“It is the duty of the executive arm of government to provide accommodation for legislators in a constitutional democracy as exemplified by the FCT Minister with respect to the National Assembly.

“It is, therefore, hypocritical to suggest that the Rivers State House of Assembly under Rt. Hon. Martins Amaewhule could sit anywhere of their choice, whereas in Abuja, it is the FCT Minister, on behalf of the executive arm that provides accommodation for federal legislators. The very reason the FCT minister was referred to as the ‘Landlord of Abuja’ by Mr. President at the presentation of the 2024 budget.”

According to the Rivers elders and leaders, the directive to re-present the budget passed and signed into law is a clear attempt to ridicule and denigrate the office of the governor, River’s people and the judiciary.

The Forum continued: “In public administration parlance, a person can exit service either by resignation, sack, voluntary retirement or death. It is, therefore, preposterous for the president to direct that the people, who have exited service for personal reasons be re-absorbed.

“The Forum enjoined all responsible citizens of Rivers State to rise up in this moment of truth, to salvage the soul of Rivers State. Our fathers fought for the creation of Rivers State, we will stand to defend it. When injustice and criminality become law and a way of life in the polity, resistance becomes a duty.

“Finally, the Forum condemns the directives for the resolution of the political crisis in Rivers State. Nigeria is a constitutional democracy where only the courts can order the reversal of acts done or carried out under the provisions of the law.

“Therefore, any resolution or directive that intends to undermine the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law is unacceptable, null and void and will be resisted, using all constitutional means within our disposal.”

•Fubara deserves respect

An APC chieftain, Dr. Garus Gololo, hailed Governor Fubara, for subscribing to peace and shunning the way of those calling for war.

He chided individuals from the South South for failing to wade into the matter before President Tinubu did. He said the crises would have led to declaration of state emergency, which would have signaled the death of democracy in Rivers State.

“I respect Chief Edwin Clark so much, I regard him as a father, but I was disappointed at his call for continued crises in Rivers State, especially when the president has waded into the matter. I thought at his level, he should be calling for peace meetings between the warring parties. He should also be commending efforts put in to ameliorate the situation. But he did not, rather, he chose to take on Me. President, who waded in and called both parties to order. We all know that Rivers State is a volatile area as far as politics is concerned, so the approach to settle this matter must be a technical one, not the way everyone wants it. Again, People like Edwin Clark, should know that President Bola Tinubu is not the president of APC, but President of Nigeria, of which Rivers State is an integral part.”

He advised the elder statesman to, henceforth, start speaking for the benefit of his people not to feather his nest.

•Group defends Tinubu

A group under the auspices of BAT Vanguard has Tinubu deserves commendations for restoring peace and tranquility in Rivers State, which is part and parcel of his constituency as President of Nigeria.

In a statement by the convener, Olusola Olofin, the group insisted that President Tinubu merely facilitated a settlement between or among the disputants in order for them to resolve their differences amicably among for the purpose of ensuring good governance for the people of the state.

It described President Tinubu “as a democrat to the core, and chief upholder of constitutionality in the country. A man whose democratic credentials and commitment to democratic values are beyond question.

“Whatever resolutions reached by the parties were reached by them on their own and were not however imposed by the President.

“We wish to state categorically that President Tinubu did not, in any way, impose any settlement between or among the disputants and parties in the Rivers State crisis contrary to what is being alleged or insinuated in some quarters. What President Tinubu did was to call for peace and tranquility in Rivers State, which is part and parcel of his constituency as President of Nigeria.”

•Vote of confidence

Over 10 non-violent groups from South-South and Northern parts of the country have passed vote of confidence on Fubara and leader of the four aggrieved members of the House of Assembly, Edison Ehie. The groups in a joint world press conference in Abuja, also commended River’s people for defending the mandate they gave Fubara, who they described as the ‘People’s Governor.’

At the meeting were Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum (NDNAF), Niger Delta Civil Action Advocay Group (NDCAAG), Ijaw Wari Worldwide, Movement for Unity of Northern and Southern Nigeria (MUNSN), Association of Ekpeye Women in Diaspora (AED), Niger Delta Unity Front (NDUF), Coalition of North Central Women for Unity and Governance  (CNCWUGG), Ijaw Renaissance Force (IRF), Association of Waterways Ambassadors of Nigeria (AWAN) and Coalition for Greater and Better Nigeria (CGBN).

The groups, in a statement signed on their behalf by Wisdom Oniekpar Ikuli, National President of Niger Delta Nonviolence Agitators Forum (NDNAF) and Executive Director, Centre for Peace Advocacy and Social Rehabilitation (CPASR), frowned at the domineering influence of the immediate past governor on his successor.


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